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iPhone's price tag curbs Brits' interest

Seventy-two percent of U.K. consumers won't buy Apple's device at its current price, according to a survey.

The cost of the Apple iPhone is a sticking point for U.K. consumers, according to a survey.

The $554 (269 pounds) price tag is putting off swathes of potential buyers, according to a poll by market researcher GFK NOP, which surveyed 500 people across the U.K.

Almost half (46 percent) of consumers polled said they would never buy an iPhone at that price, while a further 26 percent said that, although they like the look of the phone, it's simply too expensive.

Two percent said they are considering adding it to their Christmas list.

The iPhone went on sale in England and Germany earlier this month. U.K. consumers willing to shell out for the hardware must sign up to an 18-month contract with O2, Apple's U.K. iPhone partner. In Germany, mobile operator Vodafone recently won a court injunction forcing Apple and its partner there, T-Mobile, to sell an unlocked version of the phone. In France, Apple is obliged by law to offer unlocked iPhones after six months.

The success of the UK's mobile market has been driven by subsidized handsets, said GFK NOP, which means the high retail price of the iPhone sets it apart from other offerings.

The cost of the handset is also a barrier for businesses: a recent vote by a CIO user panel found that bosses view it as too expensive to use as a corporate mobile.

There is one bit of good news for Apple in the survey: consumer awareness of the iPhone is strong, with 75 percent of respondents saying they have heard of the device. Consumers also strongly associate the device with music and e-mail and Web surfing.

Apple did not reply to a request for comment.

Natasha Lomas of reported from London.